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Taste the Future

16 Sep

I had the wonderful opportunity to attend this week’s Taste the Future event to benefit Columbus State Community College’s scholarship program. (Thanks Hungry Woolf!) I’ve watched the set up of the event (mere weeks after I arrived in Columbus) and always admired the culinary offerings from attendees’ Flickr sets and such. This event struck a personal note too because I’ve been a student at CSCC in the Economics and Mathematics departments and have always been impressed with the level of engagement and effort the instructors invest. From a very personal perspective, I absolutely believe that a couple years at a junior college is a good investment for a wandering young adult (or in my case, a mid-aged adult). I am so very pleased and confident that the proceeds from this benefit will provide extraordinary opportunities for young adults. Onto the food!!

One of the many highlights of the evening was G. Michael’s signature Shrimp and Grits. I heard about this dish even before I arrived in Columbus in August 2007 and despite indulging in many mouthwatering offerings each time I’ve been to the restaurant, I still had never had the dish! Well, the time finally came: warm, creamy grits set off by a perfectly done (not mushy, not rubbery) sweet jumbo shrimp, dressed in a tomato-y, smokey, scallion, butter sauce. Good heavens. In this same area, B was so impressed with City Barbeque’s Mini Pulled Pork sandwich that he was itching to go for seconds. (Was it pork? The CSCC menu says chicken.)

I was pleasantly surprised by a couple dishes, particularly from places that I consider groceries, like Kroger and Giant Eagle. Above is Carrot Souffle and Sauteed Crab Cake from Market District at Giant Eagle. The carrot souffle was phenomenal, like a combination of sweet potato pie and carrot cake. This was the first of many crab cakes for the evening and put the others to shame, there’s actually crab in there!

This is (was? cuz it’s now in my belly?) Brewers Yard @ Kroger’s Mini Surf & Turf. Do you see the size of that scallop? It was literally half the size of B’s iPhone. Tender scallop and beef, not too oily, not too salty, and great flavors from the asparagus and mushroom salad.

These tiles are Cameron Mitchell Catering’s Watermelon Gelee with lump crab. This was the most elegant dish of the evening. You can’t really see the rose-y pink gelee on the red background but the thin layer of clean crispness really paired well with the creaminess of the avocado. A touch of diced tomato, a sprinkle of toasted black sesame seeds, and the sweet, tart, nutty flavors really dressed up the lump crab. I should have had two…

I do have to admit that as the light was beginning to fade, I was as well: having only slept four hours the night before and only four hours on the 22 hour, two layover trip, I was really itching to kick off the heels and be horizontal. But not before I grabbed an Auddino’s “Doughssant” to take home with me! Can I just say, “WOW!” Crispy! Flaky! Sugary! Buttery! GAH! I ate this sucker in three bites for breakfast while hiding in the kitchen because I was feeling selfish and didn’t want to offer B a taste. I’m a bad girlfriend. No, wait, I was doing him a favor, helping him avoid sweets and grease and refined carbs, yes.

Other highlights of the evening included The Refectory’s Scallop Pomponnette with Sauce Bonne Femme (like a scallop shaped mousse flavor burst!), Limitedbrands’ Bacon Buckeye (was it pretzel pieces in the peanut butter that made this salty/crunchy delicious? or the Magic Shell like coating of chocolate? or the crisp crumbled smokey bacon?), and finally, Luce Enoteca’s Smoked Corn Gazpacho (smokey anything is delicious but smokey corn? Mmm!). It is so rare for chefs to get an opportunity to taste each others’ creations so it was great seeing tall white toques bobbing around the area sampling everything and drawing inspiration. Next year!!